Yesterday I mentioned that I had developed tricks and habits over the years to help me deal with anxiety when going out of the house. I decided I’d share some of those with you to try to illustrate my thought process and why I’m having trouble breaking them now even though they aren’t as necessary as they once were. Here are some of them.
This one is obvious but immediately locating the nearest restroom anywhere. Whether in a mall, restaurant, person’s home or hotel, I will always do a quick lap to locate any and all restrooms around me. If I go to a new home or place with someone that knows it already, I will ask so I know before I walk in the door where they are.
I never get myself locked into a spot. I will always pick a seat where I don’t have to crawl over anyone. In theatres or selecting tickets, I’m always on the end of a row. Or at a restaurant, I try not to be on the inside of a booth so someone has to let me out. Knowing I can get out if I want out without having to get anyone to move, was enough to ease my mind.
Sitting close to a door. In classes or meetings, I was always next to the door or at least towards the back so I could sneak out less noticed.
Sticking close to a restroom. Most people hate those seats but honestly I was relieved to see I was on that side of a restaurant or near it. Timing could be very tight so it gave me an extra thirty seconds or more of leeway time. Doesn’t sound like much but it can be.
Driving into a new area or going to a stadium, etc., I’d often go to the restroom just to confirm that I don’t have to go. Then I could relax. It adds extra trips but more enjoyable than panicking and even possibly making yourself sick just from the panic alone.
My phone goes with me everywhere and I do mean everywhere. It is glued to me and I alcohol it regularly. In the event that I get stuck in a bathroom, randomly disappear on someone or want someone to pay the check so I can immediately head for the door, it is helpful.
I’ve always tried to keep a few things in my purse including an Imodium type product and tissues because when you are running for the bathroom, it is easy to miss that it has no toilet paper. And that sucks.
I rarely made plans in advance. People who knew me well would let me know in advance but call me an hour before to see how I was doing. It helped a lot. This has led me to be a bit more spontaneous based on how I’m feeling sometimes.
I planned out the order of the stores I’d visit and where I parked at the mall based on the locations of restrooms so that I could stop somewhere midway through so anxiety wouldn’t eat me alive.
I keep track of all of my surroundings and big chains like Target or Walgreens that you can easily locate the restrooms and they are reasonably clean.
If I went to dinner and a movie, it was always movie and dinner so I didn’t eat prior to having to try to sit there afterward.
I avoided eating entirely if a day at an amusement park or something similar was planned because it was easier than trying to stand in the lines for rides wondering if I had to go or not. Especially when I refuse to get back in the line after I step out like a lot of people do.
I insisted on driving for years because it let me be in control. If I wanted to stop somewhere, or get there a bit faster, whatever it was, it was in my hands. Being a passenger can be nerve-wracking.
I learned to not feel bad about turning down food and saying no when offered. This one is still incredibly useful to me now.
I’m not complaining. Strategies like these helped me tremendously and still do on occasion. What are some of the ways you dealt with the associated anxiety and what was your logic behind them?